Cat Harbor, Catalina Island by Sailboat

Knowing our daughter would be back in school late in August, we took a short four day trip to Cat Harbor, Catalina last weekend, soaking up pointers like we do every trip.

Starting early Thursday morning (easier to get a mooring and old-timey sailors didn’t like to depart a harbor on a Friday if they’re going overnight) but still oversleeping by an hour, we took off from Oceanside for a long but uneventful trip to Cat Harbor, Catalina Island, California.  Taking the right at the buoy outside Oceanside, we set Tulum IV on course and stayed on the same heading the same way,,,,for 10.5 hours.  Some folks would sort of be astonished that it takes us 10.5 hours to do 51 miles, until you understand that we can’t go faster than 5.5 – 6 knots, don’t know our RPM’s (cause the gauge doesn’t work) and are not really sure about engine temps.  But, we’re still game to do it,,,,so off we went.  Oceanside to Catalina is a northwest slog for most boats, on a sailboat heading into the winds, it’s a real slog.  Yep, we had wind on the nose the entire day (not much) and didn’t sail at all.

Coming back on Sunday morning, we left really early (first light) and were able to get out into deep water without the short steep swells we had in the past.   This time we took a more direct approach to the swells heading out of Cat Harbor, like directly west, until we could make the southerly bearing in which those swells would mainly be behind us and we could surf them.  However, like the last few trips back from Cat Harbor, the wind was in the wrong direction to even think about sailing, so it was another 10 hour motor to get back to Oceanside.

Here’s some interesting pointers we picked up on this trip, as we learn things every trip:

  • The day before we left I had finally gotten our fridge and freezer fixed and was convinced I could run it on the way off the engine when my panel told me I was inverting.  I was inverting, but it was off the batteries, not the engine.  Needless to say, we drained our batteries but we were fine as the solar panels and generator recharged them.  We’ll get this fixed.
  • When mooring, no matter how many times you do it, talk through it with anyone helping you.  We had a bit of a challenge getting our mooring this time when we simply failed to put it on the cleat due to miscommunication.  It also doesn’t help when there are lots of people telling the bow person and the helmsman to do different things.  After we actually got on the mooring, we found out we were between two very nice boats who happened to own the moorings they were on,,,and had an expectation that another boat wouldn’t get put between them.  This led to some interesting exchanges, but it was settled.  While on the mooring, I wanted to test the new bridle that I had made and attached it over the bow to the morning line.  The boat behind me had the same set up, but the boats on either side of me didn’t; meaning I would come pretty close to those boats during the normal afternoon wind cycle.  They were not amused.  I changed back to the mooring setup with no bridle the next day to allay their concerns.
Dyneema Bridle Attached to mooring line- note equalized and doubled line

Dyneema Bridle Attached to mooring line- note equalized and doubled line

  • We like Cat Harbor on the west side of Twin Harbors because we don’t have a lot of trouble getting moorings.  The Cat Harbor side is more sedate with the 1/2 mile walk able to wear out the kids a bit, but not as much noise or hustle and bustle.  Last weekend with no major events going on; the Isthmus side was busy as were 4th of July and Cherry Coves.  It was a good hike to see all this on the fire roads, wore the kids out and allowed us to stretch our legs.  We were able to see one of the elusive Catalina Bald Eagle and met a couple who would be crewing on a boat doing the 2016 Baja Ha-Ha.  Our Marina neighbor is also taking off in October to do the 2016 Baja Ha-Ha, I’m jealous.
Looking down at Isthmus Cove

Looking down at Isthmus Cove

4th of July Cove

4th of July Cove

Cherry Cove

Cherry Cove

  • Loved talking to one of the boats in Cat Harbor who had done the Baja Ha-Ha in 2011 and had come home after some cruising to have a baby.  Hated letting go of their boat before getting the outboard started.  Lesson learned.   Getting towed back to our own boat under the watchful eyes of our “really nice boats” neighbors,,,,priceless.
  • Hot water coming out of your freshwater toilet and sinks while underway (with the water heater off) should be an indication that something might be wrong.  It was to me.  Still have not figured this one out, working on it.  In my opinion only,, freshwater toilets take up a lot of freshwater and I can’t wait to get rid of mine, seriously thinking about an Airhead or a Nature’s Head sort of set-up.
  • Family votes are always funny.  On the way home from Catalina, we had a family vote to name the dinghy (which NOW PLANES).  The winning name was “Boaty McBoat Face”.

Overall, a great trip with some serious lessons.  10.5 hours getting there and 10 hours to come home.  Once home, our sail cover decided it was dry rotted and made me question the usefulness of our lazy jack system, which is also dry rotting.  Upcoming repairs include the engine start panel, a new water pump, cockpit speakers as they literally had bits and pieces falling on us in the wind, sealing up the lower clamshells in my chain locker with epoxy and fiberglass and deciding to take the lazy jacks down and put on a new sail cover.

You can read about our spring trip to Catalina in the “Reviews of Places We’ve Been” category.






2 thoughts on “Cat Harbor, Catalina Island by Sailboat

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